New London - City religious groups and civic organizations alike joined Friday to condemn those responsible for racist graffiti spray-painted on a Shaw Street sidewalk and called on authorities for an investigation.
"As a diverse community, we stand together united against any form of hate ... one community, one voice, " said Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Dhaouadi stood side by side with members of the New London chapter of the NAACP, religious leaders and city officials during a gathering at the Mount Moriah Fire Baptized Holiness Church on Moore Avenue.
The church is a short distance from where city resident Laura Burfoot said she came across the spray-painted swastika alongside the words "get a job blacks," scrawled on the sidewalk.
Dhaouadi said the graffiti faces a home where an African-American family lives.
"I was pretty disgusted when I got the news," said Donald Wilson, president of the New London NAACP.
State Rep. Ernest Hewett, D-New London, and city council member Wade Hyslop both called it a wake-up call to the realities of racism that still exist in society and in the city.
"Once you attack one group, you attack all of us," Hyslop said.
Carl Astor, retired rabbi at Congregation Beth El in New London, said more important than the single isolated act of hatred was the city's reaction to it. He was heartened by the response, he said.
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio also called Friday's gathering a good sign of unity.
He said the city will work to ensure other hate-related crimes don't happen again and "loudly, soundly and quickly condemn them when they do occur."
"This is not New London," Finizio said. "This does not reflect New London."
Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard said the department investigated a similar complaint on Shaw Street on Oct. 6 when someone spray-painted, "get a job slackers" on the sidewalk. The officer who investigated that incident has been assigned to the latest complaint to see if it is similar in nature, Reichard said.
Dhaouadi said the graffiti remains where it was first discovered and said he believes it has been there for about two weeks.
He expects that now that they are aware, the city's Public Works Department will soon get rid of it.